Itinerary of Bolzano in one day, Italy
Bolzano, nestled in a valley in the midst of hills filled with vineyards, is the capital of the autonomous province of the same name, Trentino-Alto Adige. It is practically the gateway to the wonderful Dolomite Alps. It is very easy to visit this place, the center is not very big and is ideal for walking, even if you have little time.
The itinerary begins at the main landmark of Bolzano: Walterplatz, the heart of the city. Here it is a must visit the Bolzano Cathedral before reaching the nearby Dominican Church, famous for its cycles of frescoes. Finally, end the morning with a visit to the small but interesting South Tyrolean Archaeological Museum, home to Etzi, the ice man. For lunch, walk to Via dei Portici and Piazza delle Erbe, where there are plenty of places for a break based on typical cuisine. In the afternoon you will reach the beautiful Franciscan church to complete your visit in Castel Marecchio. tucked away in vineyards, the center is easily accessible on foot. Finally, if you manage to stay in the city for the evening, you can spend it between Piazza delle Erbe and via dei Portici, the center of the city’s nightlife, thanks to the many clubs present.
Walterplatz and Bolzano Cathedral
The day can only begin at Walterplatz, in the heart of the historic center. The name comes from the famous German-speaking poet Walter von der Vogelweide, whose statue stands in the center of the square . It’s flanked by bars and cafes with numerous outdoor tables. For a pleasant start to the day, we recommend stopping by Loacker Caf Bozen. Bolzano can be visited all year round, but at Christmas it takes on much more charm. In fact, Walterplatz is the center of the holidays with wonderful markets and many events that attract visitors from all over Italy.
Walterplatz and Bolzano Cathedral
Church of the Dominicans
After visiting the cathedral, head to Piazza dei Domenicani, which is only a 4-minute walk away . Here is one of the most beautiful churches in the city: the Dominican Church, Dominikanerkirche in German. This place, built in 1272, is best known for the cycles of frescoes placed inside. These are paintings dating back to the years 300, 400 and 500, which today represent a fine example and testimony to the pictorial current of Bolzano. The church also includes a monastery, two chapels, the chapel of San Giovanni and the chapel of Santa Caterina, as well as part of the monastery. In Piazza Domenicani there is Lemayr Bakery, with homemade desserts such as apple strudel, zacher, krapfen, buckwheat pie, zelten and stollen, all typical South Tyrolean sweets that should not be missed.
Church of the Dominicans
Archaeological Museum of South Tyrol and Ötzi
Finally, end your morning with a visit to an institution in Bolzano: the Archaeological Museum of South Tyrol. It is very easy to get there: from the Dominican church you just have to walk 5 minutes along the streets of the center, first passing through Via Raffaello Cernesi and then turning off at Via Museo. This museum, located in the German Sdtiroler Archologiemuseum, is famous for being the home of Ezi, or rather the ice man. It is a mummy discovered by chance in 1991 when tourists were touring at the foot of the Similaun Glacier, on the border of Austria and Italy. It is supposedly older than the pyramids of Cheops and Stonehenge, and today it is on display in this very museum, a unique opportunity. In addition to temporary and traveling exhibitions, the museum also organizes numerous events and seminars, many of which are also dedicated to children. One of the most anticipated is Archeo Week, where archaeological materials and methods will be experimented with.
Archaeological Museum of South Tyrol and Ötzi
Piazza delle Erbe and via dei Portici
For lunch you can walk to Piazza delle Erbe, where the Via dei Portici also begins. You will find yourself in the commercial center of Bolzano. In fact, Piazza delle Erbe is where the fruit and vegetable market has been running since 1295 . Here you can also admire the beautiful Neptune Fountain, one of the most beautiful in Italy. Via dei Portici, the city’s shopping street, starts from Piazza delle Erbe. The street widens for about 300 meters and still retains its structure and medieval charm. Between the numerous stores and fine buildings among the most beautiful buildings are the Trade Palace, which houses the Trade Museum, and the Ancient Town Hall, today it houses the historic archive of the city.
Piazza delle Erbe and via dei Portici
Church of the Franciscans
In the afternoon, just 150 meters from Piazza delle Erbe, just a 2 minute walk, visit one of the most beautiful and unique places in Bolzano: it is the Church of the Franciscans, attached to the monastery of the same name. In German, the Franziskanerkirche is one of the few evidences of the Gothic period in Bolzano. Unfortunately, most of the frescoes inside have been lost and the walls are almost entirely white. One of the few that have survived dates back to 1500. The wooden altar with a depiction of the Nativity in the center is invaluable. Finally, after visiting the church, see the monastery of 1300, which houses a cycle of frescoes of the Giotto school and the particular chapel of Sant’Erardo.
Finally, enjoy a walk in less than 10 minutes along Via dei Vanga and Via Claudia de’ Medici that will take you right out of the historic center, in a small area surrounded by vines of the Lagoin grape variety. In front of you can admire the Castel Mareccio. Castel Mareccio is an ancient manor house from the 13th century. Completely renovated in the 1980s, it now has a convention center and several exhibition halls. The interiors are now open to the public: the rooms are decorated with beautiful frescoes, carefully restored. It is an ideal place for conferences, seminars, business meetings, as well as concerts and cultural evenings.
Activities and ideas for alternative itineraries
There are other museums in the city that can replace a visit to the Archaeological Museum . If you like art, you can visit the Museion, a museum of modern art, and if you like history, the Mercantile Museum. If you come to town with children, the South Tyrolean Museum of Natural Sciences is also very interesting.
If you want to spend a few hours in nature, in the afternoon take the Colle cable car that will take you to the top of the mountain, full of hiking trails that you can walk on. If you love wine, you can discover the areas of Rencio and Santa Maddalena, which represent the wine region of Bolzano. Finally, not far from the city there are two other wonderful castles: Castel Roncolo and Castel Firmino.
Activities and ideas for alternative itineraries
Bolzano has a very small historic center with all the major attractions nearby. A walk is the best way to visit the city and immerse yourself in its atmosphere. When arriving in the city by car, you should know that the historic center is a ZTL. However, there are many paid parking lots in the city, which cost from 0.30 euro / hour to 3.00 euro / hour, depending on the proximity to the center.
Bolzano is ideal to visit at any time of year. In summer for nature and cool temperatures, in winter for the wonderful Christmas markets and proximity to several ski resorts.
Weekends in Bolzano
These days, the capital of Alto Adige has become a cosmopolitan city, vibrant, modern yet sophisticated. Typical Bolzano is a sensible compromise between residential development and green spaces.
What to see
The cathedral (open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm) is the cathedral for the diocese of Bolzano-Bressanone. It was originally built on the site of an early Christian basilica and then of medieval and Romanesque churches (1180). After another hundred years, construction began on a new cathedral, completed around 1420. It was an expression of the achievements of the Lombard architects combined with the Gothic Swabian tradition. The bell tower is 65 meters high and its hipped roof is finished in sandstone. The bell tower was built by the Swabian architect Hans Lutz von Schussenried in 1501-1519.
The outside of the cathedral draws attention to the crucifix of the Veronese school and the Porticina del Vino (“Wine portico”), decorated with exquisite sculptural ornaments. Its second name is Porta della Sposa (“Wedding Gate”). According to an ancient privilege, it was allowed to sell wine near it. On the west side of the cathedral, a Romanesque portal with a strainer resting on lions and a roson (carved window), completely restored from the damages of the Second World War, catch our eye. On the left is a beautiful bronze door by the Innsbrucker Defner and a fresco of the Madonna and Child (1475) attributed to Friedrich Pacher.
Inside the cathedral all three naves are of equal height (Hallenkirche), the pulpit was carved by Hans Lutz von Schussenried in sandstone and the baroque altar in polychrome marble by Rangieri and Allio of Verona in 1710-1720. The crucifix dates from 1420; the Baroque chapel delle Greazie was added in 1745. In 1771 it was painted with frescoes by Charles Henrici. The statue of the nurturing Virgin Mary on the altar belongs to the Veronese school and dates back to the 13th century. In the subchapel crypt lies the Archduke Ranieri of Austria, who died in Bolzano in 1853. In the southern part of the church is a beautiful monument to Peter Mayr, the leader of the revolt against French rule. He was shot by the French on February 20, 1810.
Piazza Walter © manfredxy / Shutterstock.com
Piazza Walter was built and named after Maximilian of Bavaria, who commissioned it, in 1808. It was later renamed in honor of Archduke John (Johannesplatz), and in 1901 it received its present name in honor of Walter von der Vogelweide (a German poet who lived from 1170-1230). Between the two world wars, however, it was briefly renamed after Vitor-Emmanuel III. The statue of the poet Waltra was carved in local marble by the sculptor Heinrich Knighter in 1889. During the Nazis, the statue was moved from its original site, but in 1985 it returned to its original location (Rosegger Park on Via Marconi).
Bolzano, Dominican Church, San Giovanni Chapel © Flickr.com
The church (open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, and Sunday from 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm) was built by Dominican monks in 1272 inside a huge monastic complex that once had many chapels (some have not survived) and a magnificent courtyard. Part of the ancient monastery is now occupied by the Conservatory (where, incidentally, the prestigious Ferruccio Busoni International Piano Competition is held) and the City Art Gallery, a venue for exhibitions and other cultural events. The church combines Gothic arches with Baroque elements from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
To the left of the main altar is an altarpiece by Gvercino, financed by local businessmen. Inside the church, there are fourteenth-century paintings by Bolzano painters (the east side of the courtyard and the west wall), but its main artistic treasure is the San Giovanni Chapel, in which a cycle of frescoes by the Giotto school is preserved. Particularly impressive are the scenes of the life of Saint Nicholas on the last register of the eastern wall, the fresco The Triumph of Death on the first register of the same wall, Escape to Egypt on the western wall and The Crucifixion of Saint Bartholomew on the northern wall. The chapel is entirely painted with frescoes by local artists of the 14th century. In the courtyard adjoining the church (entrance from Piazza Dominicani, open Tuesday-Sunday, April to October, 10 to 18; November-March, 10 to 12 and 14 to 16) you can admire the frescoes by Friedrich Pacher, dating back to 1496.
Roncolo Castle / Shutterstock.com
Roncolo Castle is at the beginning of the Val Sarentina valley, just north of Bolzano. It’s easily reached on foot along the green promenade of Lungo Talvera, and there’s also a bike path leading to it. You can also get there by bus number 12 or the free direct bus from Piazza Walter (information from the Accommodation Agency in Bolzano). At the foot of the castle there is free parking for cars and bicycles.
The castle was built in 1237 on a high rock and since then has been expanded and restored several times. There are magnificent frescoes with scenes of court and daily life, hunting and jousting tournaments. There are also references to literary works, such as the story of Tristan and Isolde, the adventures of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. It is the largest and best preserved medieval cycle of frescoes by an amateur artist.
Exhibitions and other cultural events periodically take place in the courtyard and halls of the castle. There is a “medieval” restaurant, where you can try dishes prepared according to ancient recipes. The castle is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 to 18. The last visit is at 5:30 p.m.
Benedictine Abbey of Muri Gris
The Benedictine Abbey of Moury Gris (Monday-Sunday from 9:00 to 19:00, access only to the inner gate) is a monastery with a complicated fate. It was first occupied by Augustinian monks but was pillaged during the Peasants’ War in 1525, then devastated during the Napoleonic Wars and repressed by the Bavarian authorities in 1807. In 1845, it was donated by the Emperor of Austria to the Benedictine monks of Muri in Switzerland. The central tower of the monastery was built in the 13th century by the dukes of Moritz-Greischenstein. It has an interesting museum of nativity scenes (open on Saturdays from December 1 to February 2, 15:00-17:00; from February 3 to November 30 only on the first Saturday of the month, and in July and August by appointment), a rich wine shop and a beautiful courtyard. The abbey church was built in the Baroque style and has a single-nave structure (1769-71). A cycle of frescoes (in the nave and dome) and seven altarpieces, attributed to the famous Tyrolean painter Martin Knoller, have been preserved.
The Archaeological Museum of Alto Adige preserves the history of the province from the Paleolithic to the Carolingian era. Its main attraction is the Etsy mummy in its original clothing, discovered in a melting glacier in the Tyrolean Alps. The museum’s phone number is +39 0471 320100 and it is open Tuesday-Sunday from 10 to 18, with a final visit at 17:00. In July, August and December the museum is open daily.
The Renon cable car
The new Renon cable car connects Bolzano with Upper Bolzano (Soprabolzano). The carriages leave every four minutes. From here you can go to Collabo along the Alpine meadows, during which the magnificent panoramas of the Dolomite Alps are an unforgettable experience.
Food and wine
The proximity to central Europe and the Mediterranean can also be seen in the cuisine of Alto Adige, including its capital, Bolzano. The year-round tantalizing smell of local food is in the air outside the local restaurants, which here are called “schtube”. In the fall there is a fun festival “Törggelen”, dedicated to the festival of the pressure of the grapes, which is a must to take part in. Local establishments, opening their doors, offer everyone roasted chestnuts, grape must, shpek and young wine.
Bolzano is surrounded by about 500 hectares of vineyards. The special climate and fertile soil create excellent conditions for growing exceptional quality grapes. Two autochthonous wines are made here: Lagrande and Santa Maddalena, although recently other varieties are increasingly being grown. 98% of the vineyards have D.O.P. status, which is an additional confirmation of the excellent quality of Bolzano wines.
Spiek IGP from Alto Adige
The Alto Adige IGP Späck is a lightly smoked, aged raw pork ham. Its look, smell and taste are unmistakable. The traditional technique of its production has been handed down from father to son and is protected by EU legislation. The ageing must be at least 22 weeks, the degree of smoking is low and the salt must not exceed 5%. A special branding and label “Speck Alto Adige IGP” is applied to the finished product.
Crunchy pleasure – apples from Alto Adige
It is almost impossible to copy the taste of local apples – 300 days of sunshine a year, centuries-old horticultural culture and careful storage are just some of the secrets of the exceptional taste of apples from Alto Adige, which have an impeccable taste and appearance. www.melaaltoadige.com
The classic apple strudel is a classic Alto Adige dish. It is made with puff pastry and shortbread, but the filling is always the same – local apples with grated walnuts and pine nuts. This dessert is especially delicious with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.
Milk and Dairy Products
Milk, butter, cheese, mozzarella and yogurt: the secret of the perfect taste is in the Alpine pastures and careful production quality control. The cows eat only natural, non-GMO feed. Animal breeding and health is also subject to strict surveillance.
Local bakers bake many kinds of bread, from the classic white bread to the traditional Schüttelbrot and black bread. Recently, Similaun bread has become popular, made by one of the city’s major bread makers. It is a real treat – rye bread with a special kind of pear, hazelnut and plums. It is extremely delicious and healthy at the same time.
Zelten di Bolzano
Zelten di Bolzano is a loaf with fruit, candied fruits, walnuts and many more ingredients, a traditional Christmas treat. In December you can buy it in any local bakery.
How to get there
By plane Bolzano Airport is close to the fairgrounds and just fifteen minutes from the historic center. The cab number is +39 0471 981 111.
By train The easiest way to get to the center of Bolzano is by train: the train station is at the foot of Walter Square. Information about tickets and timetable: www.trenitalia.com e www.megliointreno.it
By car WARNING Since May 2014, only cars with a special permit are allowed in the city center. Violators are monitored by CCTV. In order not to be fined, we strongly advise you to use the special parking areas, which are equipped with signs indicating the availability of spaces.
Southbound traffic: Get off at the Bolzano Sud freeway and park at the Fiera di Bolzano (1,300 spaces). A bus leaves every fifteen minutes for the center. Or take the train to the train station, which takes no more than three minutes. For those arriving from the north: exit Bolzano Nord, park at the Bolzano Centro in via Mair Nusser (1,200 spaces). A five minute walk to Piazza Walter.
For those coming from the west: Highway 42 and 38, parking at the Palasport Palace (500 spaces). A shuttle bus runs every 10 minutes to the center.
Contacts Agency for Tourism and Hospitality, 39100 Bolzano, Piazza Walther 8 [email protected] Opening hours: Mon. – Friday. 9.00 – 19.00; Saturday 9.30 – 18.00